More than 30 residents attended each of two design workshops in early July to explore four concepts for how the Waterfront Hotel site might be redeveloped, ranging from limiting the site to existing planning provisions (8-14 storeys), up to 40 storeys.
The exercise, said the consultants, was to work through the pros and cons of various proposals then glean the best of each discussion to incorporate into a final plan for the Waterfront Hotel site. The concepts were not intended as preferred options.
Some variables considered in the process: two buildings with a centre piazza; one building closer to the East of the site, with greenspace on the west; a U-shaped cluster of buildings on the East side of the site, ranging in height from 6-15 storeys, collectively adding to 40 storeys, but no single building that high; driveway access off of Brant versus only off of Elizabeth Street; underground parking under the entire site.
There are no applications for redevelopment of the site. Before any application can come forward, our Official Plan requires an extensive study, including public consultation to create a community vision for the area that would then be built into the Official Plan. Any future application would have to conform to that vision. That study is now underway. The study area includes several blocks around the hotel site, to ensure the park, waterfront and Lakeshore Road context are considered in planning.
The design workshops were preceeded by two public open houses, attended by more than 100 people.
I’ve attended all meetings and circulated to various tables during the sessions. There is significant debate over appropriate height, mass and location of buildings, but some common themes have emerged:
- residents want more greenspace to add to Spencer Smith Park. This can be accomplished in several ways: the city has a right to take a percent of parkland for each unit built; that parkland could be on the West side and/or South side of any building to blend into the park; lot coverage could be limited to 50% of the site, and buildings situated on the East side, adding greenspace on the West to the park.
- residents want public amenities with redevelopment: ideas include restaurants and cafes facing the park and water, retail along Lakeshore, a farmers market, public roof top observatory, public washrooms, or a convention centre.
- residents want a unique design, not another generic glass tower.
There was some discussion that the Waterfront Hotel buildings should be shorter than the Bridgewater to the East, with three buildings at 7, 8 and 22 storeys, The Bridgewater is already the designated “landmark” building for the downtown in the city’s Official Plan.
There was also discussion of whether the city could buy the property and turn it all into parkland. The property owner was at a session and publicly stated to our table he would sell for $250 million.
To read resident input from previous meetings click: What we heard May 2017
To learn more about the study visit: Waterfront Hotel Planning Study
You can share your input directly with the planner on the file: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m open to purchasing the property to expand the park, should terms benefit residents which the owner’s current proposal does not. Should acquisition not be possible, the community must shape the vision for any redevelopment. We can get more parkland during redevelopment, as well as public amenities, with a variety of tools, including reduced lot coverage, parkland dedication and moving buildings to the east.
This is a key area in our downtown and waterfront, and whatever happens here, we need to get it right for the future. Residents need to be in the driver’s seat, not reacting to someone else’s development proposal. That’s why it’s so important to embed a community vision for this area in our Official Plan and Zoning.
There is no consensus, yet, among residents about the best vision for this area. I urge everyone to get involved in this discussion, critically evaluate and provide your input on the potential options here.